FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter, August 29, 2007

In this Edition:

Letter From the Vice President

The comments below represent the opinions of the FreeBSD Foundation, not the FreeBSD project or the FreeBSD Core Team.

On June 29th, the Free Software Foundation unveiled version 3 of the GNU General Public license (GPL). Even though the majority of software included in the FreeBSD distribution is not covered by any version of the GPL, our community cannot ignore this very popular license or its most recent incarnation. Through extremely successful evangelization, and the popularity of Linux, the misconception that OpenSource and the GPL are synonymous has become pervasive.

This misconception isn't new, so why write about it now? Version 3 has further "refined" the GPL's concept of "free" software. Some use models that were possible under "loopholes" in GPLv2 are now explicitly forbidden in GPLv3. Appliance vendors in particular have the most to lose if the large body of software currently licensed under GPLv2 today migrates to the new license. They will no longer have the freedom to use GPLv3 software and restrict modification of the software installed on their hardware. High support costs ("I modified the web server on my Widget 2000 and it stopped running...") and being unable to guarantee adherence to specifications in order to gain licensing (e.g. FCC spectrum use, Cable TV and media DRM requirements) are only two of a growing list of issues for these users. In short, there is a large base of OpenSource consumers that are suddenly very interested in understanding alternatives to GPL licensed software.

Against the backdrop of GPLv3, the stark difference between the BSD licensing philosophy and that of the Free Software Foundation are only too clear. Consider this quote from FSF founder Richard M. Stallman:

"It has been, essentially, sixteen years since GPL version 2 came out. We didn't think it would be this long before we made the next version, and we'll try to attend to future upgrade needs more quickly. We won't wait more than a decade, this time."

A GPL proponent might argue that a license for free software must be upgraded periodically since we cannot anticipate what new use models for free software might be developed that restrict freedom. The BSD license is as permissive as possible exactly because we cannot predict the future or to what beneficial purpose (commercial or otherwise) our software will be used.

As a community, this is the perfect time to clarify these differences. Toward that end, the FreeBSD Foundation has started to engage with large current and potential users of OpenSource software to understand their use models and how the GPLv3 might impact them. What is clear from the early results of this initiative is that the GPLv3 is a critical concern for many current commercial users of OpenSource software. As these companies devise strategies for dealing with GPLv3, so must the FreeBSD community - strategies that capitalize on this opportunity to increase adoption of FreeBSD.

Through our outreach efforts and support of legal services to the FreeBSD core team, the FreeBSD Foundation is working to guarantee our community has all the necessary resources and information to develop an effective response to version 3 of the GPL. However, to be effective, the members of our community must engage on this issue, understand the importance of our licensing philosophy, and promote that philosophy to others. This is a unique opportunity. Please help us to make the most of it!

Justin T. Gibbs

Vice President and Founder

The FreeBSD Foundation

Fundraising Update

Last year this time, we had raised just under $9000 in donations. This year, so far, we have raised over $143,000! We are over 50% of our way to our goal of raising $250,000. How are we going to accomplish this? We have taken some big steps towards increasing our fundraising efforts. Some of these include,

  • Adding a new board member. This has increased the number of people actively approaching companies to make large contributions.
  • Approaching companies who use FreeBSD, asking for donations.
  • Beginning our fundraising efforts at the start of the year, rather than waiting until the last quarter.
  • Investigating other services for allowing us to accept credit cards world-wide. We will be adding one of these services soon.
  • Adding support for monthly payment options soon.
  • Working with an advertising company to help create marketing material for promoting the foundation and project.

We're also appealing to you, FreeBSD developers and users, to help us with our fundraising efforts. We'd like to ask you to spread the word about FreeBSD and the foundation. By supporting the foundation, directly helps the project and community. Please help us by spreading the word to your peers and employers. We can't do this without your help!

Please consider making a donation, or approaching your employer to donate.

Network Stack Virtualization Project

The FreeBSD Foundation negotiated a joint technology development agreement with NLNet and the University of Zagreb to develop virtualized network stack support for FreeBSD. Marko Zec at the University of Zagreb has been working on this project.

The network stack virtualization project aims at extending the FreeBSD kernel to maintain multiple independent instances of networking state. This will allow for complete networking independence between jails on a system, including giving each jail its own firewall, virtual network interfaces, rate limiting, routing tables, and IPSEC configuration.

The prototype, which is kept in sync with FreeBSD -CURRENT, is now sufficiently stable for testing. It virtualizes the basic INET and INET6 kernel structures and subsystems, including IPFW and PF firewalls, and more. The next step is to have the IPSEC code fully virtualized, and refine and document the management APIs. The short-term goal is to deliver production-grade kernel support for virtualized networking for FreeBSD 7.0-RELEASE (as a snap-in kernel replacement), while continuing to keep the code in sync with -CURRENT for possible merging at a later date.

10Gigabit Network Testbed

The upgraded netperf cluster is finally up and running on 10g gear thanks to the generous donations from Cisco (10g switch), iXsystems (3 multi-processor systems), and Chelsio, Intel, Myricom, and Neterion (10g adapters). We would also like to acknowledge Sentex for hosting and maintaining the equipment. The Foundation provided two 8-core SMP systems in the cluster that were purchased as part of the Google-supported work by Joseph Koshy. The cluster is already being heavily used to do network performance analysis and development work. We are actively soliciting donations of additional blades and line cards for the Cisco switch, CX-4 cables, and 10g adapters. Research work in doing line-rate data capture also requires a high-performance disk subsystem.

Improving the Hardware Performance Counter Support Project

The FreeBSD Foundation, with a generous grant from Google, teamed up to sponsor Joseph Koshy in improving the hardware performance counter support in FreeBSD. The goal of the project is the addition of callgraph support in the hwpmc driver. With callgraph support, developers can more clearly visualize performance issues through the exact code paths, rather than a specific function which may only exhibit issues through one path, but not others. In addition to the improvements to this software, Google provided funding for 2 modern CPU machines for development and testing. These new machines were placed in the network performance cluster hosted by Sentex Corp in Ontario, Canada.

AsiaBSDCon 2007

The foundation was pleased to be a sponsor of AsiaBSDCon 2007.

The conference was held from the 8th through the 11th of March, with the first two days devoted to tutorials and the second two days devoted to refereed papers and presentations. They had 90 people register for one or more tutorials, and 190 people register for the conference itself. The proceedings and the presenter's slides can be found on their web site at:

http://asiabsdcon.org/papers/

The committee considered the conference to have been a tremendous success both in terms of the papers that were presented as well as the attendance numbers. We were happy to also have sponsored two FreeBSD developers to attend the conference.

BSDCan 2007

BSDCan 2007 was, as in previous years, a resounding success, thanks to the amazing work of organizer Dan Langille, and with the support of a Gold sponsorship grant from the FreeBSD Foundation. This annual gathering of the BSD community took place at the University of Ottawa in Canada between the 14th and 16th of May, 2007. It provides a great opportunity for FreeBSD users and consumers to learn about ongoing work, and to meet with FreeBSD developers, with 218 registered attendees this year.

For many FreeBSD developers, the conference began with a two-day developer summit with 45 FreeBSD committers and 22 guests meeting to present and discuss on dozens of topics. For the first time, the developer summit broke out into multiple tracks, with sessions ranging from mentoring new developers, bug management, journaled file systems, writing books on FreeBSD, network stack virtualization, zero-copy packet capture, Google Summer of Code projects, ZFS, 802.11n, to using Coverity Prevent/Extend to improve FreeBSD source code quality. Developers included those from many major FreeBSD consumers, including Yahoo!, Apple, Nokia, Isilon, SCC, ISC, Juniper, NetApp, Sandvine, Philips, Cisco, and Blue Coat Systems. The developer summit was co-sponsored with the FreeBSD Foundation by Yahoo! and Sandvine.

The conference proper included many other FreeBSD talks, including presentations on FreeBSD SD/MMC cards, high-performance compute clusters, PCI interrupts, the ports system, network stack virtualization, IPv6 security, FreeBSD security features, the security officer, ZFS, portsnap, FreeNAS, AutoFS, PC-BSD, and FreeBSD/powerpc. Conference attendees also listened to Work-in-Progress sessions, guest speakers talking about a variety of aspects of open source development, and talks on other BSD projects.

The FreeBSD Foundation held its annual board meeting in Ottawa simultaneously with the conference. We were pleased to be able to provide travel grants to bring four FreeBSD developers to BSDCan, and look forwarding to sponsoring BSDCan 2008!

2007 Grant and Travel Grant Recipients

Every year we sponsor FreeBSD related conferences, projects, and developer travel. We believe that BSD-centered and FreeBSD-specific conferences play critical roles in expanding the FreeBSD user community and supporting collaborative development. Our grants may be for something as little as shipping equipment to a developer to large projects like the Network Stack Virtualization project.

To find out how to apply for a travel grant, please visit http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/documents/TravelRequestForm.pdf. To get information on how to apply for a grant, please visit http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/documents/GrantRequestForm.pdf.

Here is a list of projects, developers, and conferences we have sponsored for 2007.

2007 Grant Recipients:

  • BSDCan 2007 Conference
  • AsiaBSDCon 2007 Conference
  • EuroBSDCon 2007 Conference

Travel Grant recipients for this year were:

  • AsiaBSDCon - Michael Bushkov, Pawel Jakub Davidek
  • BSDCan - Kirill Ponomarew, Max Laier, Ivan Voras, Mathieu Prevot

Board of Directors Update

With the significant growth of the foundation in the last two years, the board decided to add another board member. We believe this will help us better distribute the work between board members, increase our fund-raising efforts, and help build partnerships with organizations to create more collaborative development projects. We are very pleased that Paul Saab agreed to join the foundation's board as a director. We believe he brings the skills and experience needed to help us grow and support the project and community.

The board of directors held its annual meeting May 18 in Ottawa, Canada. The main purpose of the meeting was to elect directors and officers. All the current directors were re-elected. This includes Jonathan Bresler, Justin Gibbs, Deb Goodkin, Sam Leffler, Paul Saab, and Robert Watson. Officers were also elected at this meeting. The newly elected officers were Robert Watson, President, Justin Gibbs, Vice President, and Deb Goodkin, Secretary/Treasurer.

Financials

Our 2007 Q1-Q2 Profit/Loss and 2007 Q1-Q2 Balance Sheet are now posted on our website. You may notice that we have organized some of the expense accounts differently. We have also included equipment depreciation to better match what we report on our taxes. Hopefully, the changes will better reflect how our money is spent. The financials for 2007 Q1 and 2006 were updated to reflect the changes, too.